V/A – Thank You: A Charity Compilation
Posted In: Matt Gilley, V/A - Thank You: A Charity Compilation, Vintermusik, Välderns Barn Charity
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Compilations are curious things. They rarely seem intended to be enjoyed as whole, artistic entities in their own right. Instead they are often introductions, from which you might discover a few new artists and forget about the rest, or perhaps it might be a mixtape of the best tracks from a certain time, genre or label, handily collected by someone else, saving you the effort of trawling through your music library yourself. Neither of those are necessarily bad things of course, but though they might be interesting on a track-by-track basis, compilations don’t normally make for very coherent albums. One of the pleasures of Thank You, compiled by emerging label Vintermusik in aid of the Välderns Barn charity, is that actually it is a beautiful whole as well as a selection of individual beauties.
Piano and cello thread throughout the album. Delicate, dancing tones of the former are the centrepieces of Rachel Grimes’ “Every Morning” and Anna Rose Carter’s “Memor” whilst the deep strings of the latter are stronger and more melancholic, anchoring Julia Kent’s “Last Day in July” and Sylvain Chauveau’s “Des Plumes dans la Tête”. Both appear more briefly on other tracks too and the continuity they provide is vital to Thank You – not to mention that in Grimes, Carter and Kent Vintermusik have collected three of the instruments’ most captivating players. Whilst piano and cello form the decoration of the album, the fabric is made from electronics. These come in pleasingly varied shades – from the crystalline minimalism of Rafael Anton Irisarri to the fuzz of Offthesky & Pleq. The consistent hum of ambience, only really broken for the neo-classical leanings of Kent and Chauveau, again goes a long way toward binding the album together. The reflective warmth is well suited to a charity compilation.
Thank You is not without its highlights, however, and Vintermusik should be commended for curating a selection with enough similarity to be coherent and enough difference so as not to smudge the separate contributions of each artist. Jasper TX’s aptly named “Smoke”, for example, begins almost intangibly before slowly unfurling its tendrils, emotive brushes of piano creeping into perception. Or there is the Monolyth & Cobalt contribution. “The North by Train (Sarah’s Memories)” breaks the album’s mould, being composed mainly of guitars and moving at a quicker pace, apparently eager to get going. As more layers are added the density of mood thickens, becoming more contemplative but retaining that restless feeling – the ‘memories’ and the ‘train’. Such individuality allows Thank You to serve another of the compilation’s functions: to direct you to individual artists. Whilst appreciating the whole package you can also pick out particular musicians. In my case this came as “Lumberton”’s delicate, heartfelt reminder that I’ve still never bought an Irisarri album and really should do, and a much appreciated introduction to Monolyth & Cobalt.
Thank You excels as a compilation, for those who might be familiar with every artist featured, those looking for introductions and for those who just want to support a good cause. Each artist shows off some of their best work and they fit together wonderfully, which is surely a testament to Vintermusik, who, on this evidence, are a young label well worth keeping an eye on.
- Matt Gilley for Fluid Radio